Courses - Fall 2021

AFRAMER 11  Introduction to African Studies

Olupona, Jacob - This course introduces students to the rich diversity and complexity of Africa, including its historical dynamics, economic developments, social and political practices, and popular cultures. Throughout, we assume that Africa is not a unique isolate but a continent bubbling with internal diversity, historical change, entrepreneurial spirit, and cultural links beyond its shores. Our goal is to train students to think rigorously about Africa from interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives. We also aim to equip students with the analytical tools necessary for recognizing and deconstructing reductionist and stereotyped narratives of Africa.  The course is open to all students who are interested in exploring various dimensions of African life, politics, peoples and cultures from the past to the postcolony.

AFRAMER 91R  Supervised Reading and Research

Brown, Vincent - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have permission of the proposed instructor. Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 98  Junior Tutorial - African American Studies

Brown, Vincent - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have the permission of the proposed instructor. Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 98A  Junior Tutorial - African Studies

Brown, Vincent - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have the permission of the proposed instructor. Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 99A  Senior Thesis Workshop

Brown, Vincent - Thesis supervision under the direction of a member of the Department. Part one of a two part series.

AFRAMER 109X  A Different Shade of Brown: South Asians, Race, and Representation in the United States

Bald, Vivek - This course will focus on both the lived experiences of South Asians in the United States and images of South Asians in U.S. popular culture from the late 19th century to the present.  We will read primary and secondary historical sources and look critically at a range of different media - from newspapers, print advertising and political pamphlets at the turn of the 20th century to film, TV, and the Internet in the 21st - tracing out how migrants and immigrants from the subcontinent went from being exotic curiosities to "undesirable aliens" to "model minorities" to "terrorist threats".  We will examine dynamics of immigrant exclusion and inclusion; processes of racialization and experiences of racial violence; relationships between South Asians, African Americans, and other communities of color; and the various ways contemporary South Asian Americans are representing and asserting themselves through activism, the arts, media, and popular culture.

AFRAMER 115X  African Literature Now: Themes, Contexts, and Directions

Ogene. Timothy - The course is an introduction to the major themes, contexts, and directions of contemporary African writing. It will examine the place of contemporary African literature within the global literary marketplace, and within the broader frames of the global postcolonial contemporary. It will also consider the ways contemporary writers are marking their awareness of the legacies of colonial practices, while negotiating new ways to engage the realities of postcolonial anxieties in a world of new mobilities and political alignments. While paying attention to regional, historical, and linguistic diversity, the texts are also inclusive in the range of questions they raise and address, including but not limited to the lived experiences of “Afrindian” communities in Africa, the plight of African migrants in Europe, the complex place and history of Liberia as a settler colony for free slaves in West Africa, the afterlives of the global Cold War, and the current debate around African (tangible) heritage on the global stage. Primary texts will include works by Teju Cole, Neema Shah, Vamba Sherif, Danai Gurira, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dinaw Mingestu, Okey Ndibe, Tarek Eltayeb, Petina Gappah, Igiaba Scego, Tope Folarin, and others. Secondary materials will include contextualizing essays, interviews, and documentaries that foreground the themes and narrative directions of the primary texts. A main component of this course is the link between the past and the present, how the thematic and strategic preoccupations of early postcolonial African writers and thinkers, in the double project of decolonization and “worldmaking” against the backdrop of colonial rule and the global Cold War, are simultaneously echoed and re-imagined in the present.

AFRAMER 115Y  Introduction to African Popular Culture

Ogene. Timothy - This course will introduce students to defining trends, movements, and practices in twentieth and twenty-first century popular culture in Africa. Focusing on the lives, interventions and innovative practices of key figures in music, television, fashion, dance, and publishing, we will examine the socio-political and historical in relation to broader aesthetic and stylistics connections with the rest of the world. This will be discussed in the larger contexts of colonial and postcolonial class formations, the afterlives of cold war cultural diplomacy, access to education and accumulation of socio-political capital, the emergence of new conceptions of self and nationhood in relation to the global, new modes of cultural circulation, and the new lives of rediscovered archives in the twentieth first century. Figures such as Fela Kuti, Ousmane Sembene, Fela Sowande, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Miriam Makeba, Duro Olowu, Charley Boy, Dele Momodu, and William Onyeabor will be discussed alongside new figures in the contemporary scene, with emphasis on lines of influence, self- fashioning, and the interface between the socio-political and the commercial. The ubiquitous power of diasporic/Afropolitan presence (and performance of access) will be considered alongside the local and vernacular/indigenous, and the cosmopolitan and secular will be discussed alongside the traditional and religious. The steady rise/use of social media platforms as generative, where new forms of culture-driven protests and negotiations of identities unfold, will be considered alongside the history of audio-visual communication and the emergence of modern African celebrity culture. This course is suitable for students with a general interest in the production, circulation, and consumption of culture in modern Africa.

AFRAMER 116  Autobiography and Memoir: Remembering the Self

Kincaid, Jamaica - Close readings of classic autobiographies: Fredrick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Adams, Elizabeth Keckley; and contemporary memoirs by Ta Nahesi Coates, Hilton Als among others. A weekly critical paper is required; the final paper is a creative one, a short memoir.

AFRAMER 134X  How Sweet is it to be Loved By You: Black Love and the Emotional Politics of Respect

Morgan, Marcyliena; Kincaid, Jamaica - The word 'love' is almost never used in any portrayal or description of the African American community's daily life in contemporary media and in the social sciences. But love, as a human experience, is central to our understanding of what it means to be a vital member of a culture and society and thus respected, nurtured, etc.  This seminar examines the love that difference makes.   It is a comprehensive study of the representation of gender, love and sexuality in African American and African Diasporan culture.  It introduces students to some of the principal questions of feminist theory, as viewed from the social sciences and humanities including anthropology, psychology, media studies and literature. Love, in all its many forms: familial, erotic, romantic, fraternal, is abundant, sometimes dominant, in black culture in the form of song, film, poetry and rhyme, and literature. This course will review and analyze the ‘look of Black love’ in the humanities and social sciences and writings on intersubjectivity, family, language, culture and ritual.  It will also look at the absence of love within and toward the African American community as well as love’s role in movements like Black Lives Matter.  We will closely read, watch and listen to some of the many Black artists who have looked deeply at this thing called Love.   How Sweet it Is explores and analyzes Black Love from disciplinary, social and cultural perspectives including: family, romance, gender, sexuality, racism, and physical and emotional health, institutions and space, place and home.

AFRAMER 183Y  The Long Civil Rights Movement in American History

Pope, Andrew - African Americans led a decades-long struggle for liberation during the twentieth century. The civil rights movement encompassed a range of economic, social, and political demands. The fight against Jim Crow bound together these demands under the framework of a single movement for much of the century. Together we will study the role of Black women, how violent and non-violent strategies worked in tandem, the relationship between the civil rights movement and other movements domestic and abroad, among other topics related to the struggle to end Jim Crow and envision a different America. The course re-examines parts of the movement that are well-known, like Martin Luther King Jr. or non-violent direct action, as well as lesser-known elements of the movement like African American sharecroppers in the Communist Party, the role of sexuality in the movement, or how Black Power advocates shaped modern America. Taken as a whole, the course will examine the long history of the civil rights movement and how it transformed American society.

AFRAMER 197  Poverty, Race, and Health

Williams, David - This course critically examines the health status of the poor, and of African Americans and other socially disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups in the US. Attention will be focused on the patterned ways in which the health of these groups is embedded in the social, cultural, political, and economic contexts, and arrangements of US society. Topics covered include the meaning and measurement of race, the ways in which racism affects health, the historic uses of minorities in medical research, how acculturation and migration affects health, and an examination of the specific health problems that disproportionately affect nondominant racial groups.

AFRAMER 202  Theory and Race in the Americas

McCarthy, Jesse - This course surveys myths, theories, discourses, and debates surrounding the meaning of race and its role in the historical formation of the “New World” in the Americas. Beginning with the origins of racial theory in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, we will follow their evolution and expansion into scientific and culturalist discourses in the nineteenth century, and through the dramatic transformations of the twentieth century leading up to the present. Readings will range from canonical scholars, orators, social scientists, and philosophers up to the most contemporary thinkers. Along the way, we will read work by Ottobah Cugoano, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Hortense Spillers, Paul Gilroy, Sylvia Wynter, Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Denise Ferreira da Silva, James Baldwin, Cedric Robinson, Angela Davis, Imani Perry, Khalil Muhammad, Saidiya Hartman, Charles Mills, Jackie Wang, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Audre Lorde and Cornel West among others. The course places an emphasis on building foundations in the historiography and intellectual genealogy of racial discourses as they have been constructed, reproduced, contested, reimagined, and ultimately disseminated throughout the American hemisphere and beyond.

AFRAMER 209A  Africa Rising? New African Economies/Cultures and Their Global Implications

Comaroff, Jean - This course, which is offered every semester, is taught in conjunction with, and as part of, the African Studies Workshop at Harvard (ASW). It consists of two components: (i) a public session, held every Monday afternoon at 2:00-4:00, at which a speaker invited from outside the university, a member of the Harvard faculty, or an advanced graduate student will present a pre-circulated paper to an audience similarly composed of faculty, visiting scholars, students, and Africanists from other institutions in the greater Boston area. (The pre-circulated papers are usually sent out, latest, by the Wednesday before it is to be presented.) *You can view videos of previous African Studies Workshops on this link: Each session includes a brief introduction to the paper by its author, a commentary by a discussant, and an open conversation, in which students are given the floor first, followed by anyone else present; (ii) an under/graduate student seminar component, to be held every Monday at 9:45-11:30am, at which the instructors will introduce and contextualize the topic of the paper to be presented later in the day at the public session, after which members of the class will have an opportunity to discuss it in depth. (In some instances, texts relevant to the topic, drawn from the contemporary Africanist canon, will be suggested as supplementary reading.)  The theme of the course derives from a story in The Economist in 2011 under the title, “Africa Rising.” It argued that the continent has come to epitomize both the ""transformative promise of [capitalist ] growth and its bleakest dimensions.” During the spring semester, we shall explore Africa’s changing place in the world – and the new economies, legalities, socialities, and cultural forms that have arisen there; this in relation to the papers presented in the public sessions of the ASW. We shall also interrogate the claim that the African present is a foreshadowing of processes beginning to occur elsewhere; that, therefore, it is a productive source of theory about current conditions world-wide.

AFRAMER 310  Individual Reading Tutorial

Allows students to work with an individual member of the faculty in a weekly tutorial.

AFRAMER 390  Individual Research

Requires students to identify and carry out a research project under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Graduate students may use this course to begin work on the research paper required for admission to candidacy.

AFRAMER 391  Directed Writing

Requires students to identify a major essay and carry it out under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Graduate students may use this course to begin to work on the research paper that is a requirement of admission to candidacy.

AFRAMER 392  Teaching, Writing, and Research

To be used to enroll in credits for teaching, writing, and research

AFRAMER 398  Reading and Research

Permission of the instructor and the Director of Graduate Studies is required for enrollment.

AFRAMER 399  Direction of Doctoral Dissertations